Hitched or Ditched -- TV Review

Benjamin Walker
Jason Kempin/Getty Images

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 13:  Actor Benjamin Walker attends the "Bloody Bloody Jackson" opening night after party at Brasserie 8 1/2 on October 13, 2010 in New York City.

Watching the CW's "Hitched or Ditched" is a brutal experience. The premise of the reality show is that in each episode, a couple is given an all-expenses-paid wedding that's planned and executed in seven days, and when they're at the altar, they have to decide whether they want to get married or break up. And even though the series continues the abhorrent reality trend of treating marriage like a cheap carnival prize, the show's got bigger problems.

The biggest is that it looks and feels like every other unthinking reality show out there, using the same generically "dramatic" music and flash cuts until it's impossible to remember what the show's even about. There's no effort made to differentiate the show from the reality pack and no attempt to make the romance any more realistic than "Rock of Love." The series takes itself too seriously and its planned commitments too lightly.

The pilot follows Travis and Celisa, a couple in Charlotte, N.C., who bicker constantly and have broken up several times during the course of their four-year relationship but who still want to be together forever. Host Tanya McQueen springs the surprise on them, and from there they have to tell their folks, get dresses and tuxes, and engage in the kind of predictable brain-dead drama you've come to expect from the genre. Travis' friends think Celisa is nuts; he gets drunk and crashes her bachelorette party; it's like something out of Dostoevsky. "We enjoy arguing," he says. "No, you do," she responds with a giggle. It's either the best joke ever broadcast on the CW or the best way to sum up the lives of these pleasant but still empty-headed people. You decide.

A later episode takes the series' gleeful lack of respect for marriage and combines it with the nuanced handling of race relations you'd expect from reality TV, as an interracial couple struggles with familial resistance to their nuptials. Different people, same manufactured drama and lifeless storytelling. Why are these people together? Do they even want to get married in the first place? The series isn't interested in answering those questions, only in filling an hour of airtime with stuff you've seen before. A test pattern would have been cheaper.

Airdate: 9-10 p.m. Tuesday, May 26 (the CW)
Production: Next Entertainment, RDF USA
Host: Tanya McQueen
Executive producers: Mike Fleiss, Chris Coelen, Greg Goldman, Martin Hilton, Jason Ehrlich, Mike Duffy
Co-executive producers: Robin Feinberg, Kevin Finn, Alycia Rossiter
Supervising producer: Cat Rodriguez
Creators: Mike Fleiss, Greg Goldman
Directors: Michael Shea
Director of photography: Kary D'Alessandro
Production designer: Angelic Rutherford
Casting: Robyn Kass